Famous German Sociologists

Find out more about the greatest German Sociologists, including Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, Friedrich Engels, Jürgen Habermas and Theodor W. Adorno.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite German Sociologists

 1 Max Weber

Max Weber
6
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Erfurt, Germany
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

 2 Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas
6
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

German philosopher and sociologist Jürgen Habermas is counted among the most influential philosophers across the world and is identified with the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He influenced many disciplines through his work which addresses communicative rationality and the public sphere, and includes topics starting from social-political theory to aesthetics, language to philosophy of religion, and epistemology.

 3 Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 19, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: July 29, 1979

The proponent of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, Herbert Marcuse largely influenced the leftist student revolts of the 1960s. Equipped with a PhD in German literature, he wrote Hegel’s Ontology and the Theory of Historicity, with Martin Heidegger. His Eros and Civilization spoke at length about capitalism.

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 4 Erich Fromm

Erich Fromm
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Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: March 23, 1900
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 18, 1980

Erich Fromm was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, and socialist. A German Jew, he fled the Nazi regime and settled in the United States. He was a co-founder of  The William Alanson White Institute and was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. He is best remembered for authoring the book Escape from Freedom.

 5 Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel
4
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: March 1, 1858
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 26, 1918

Georg Simmel was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic considered a forerunner to structuralist styles of reasoning in the social sciences. He was neo-Kantian in his approach and laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism. He broadly rejected academic standards and wrote extensively on the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He was married to philosopher Gertrud Kinel and had one son. 

 6 Karl Marx

Karl Marx
0
Famous As: Philosopher & Economist Famous for His Theory of 'Marxism' and Book 'Das Kapital'
Birthdate: May 5, 1818
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trier, Germany
Died: March 14, 1883

Karl Marx, the philosopher, economist, political theorist and socialist revolutionary, is best-known for the 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto and the three-volume Das Kapital. His theories, called Marxism, maintained that class conflict leads to the development of human societies and that internal tension were inherent in capitalism, which would ultimately be replaced by the socialist mode of production.

 7 Ferdinand Tönnies

Ferdinand Tönnies
3
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: July 26, 1855
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oldenswort, Germany
Died: April 9, 1936

Ferdinand Tönnies was a German economist, sociologist, and philosopher. He is credited with co-founding the German Society for Sociology where he served as the president from 1909 to 1933. Widely regarded as the first prominent German sociologist, Tönnies contributed significantly to field studies and sociological theory. Ferdinand Tönnies is often counted among the founders of classical German sociology. 

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 8 Max Horkheimer

Max Horkheimer
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Zuffenhausen, Stuttgart, Germany
Died: July 7, 1973

Max Horkheimer was a German philosopher and sociologist. He is best known for his work in critical theory as a member of the Frankfurt School of social research. He addressed authoritarianism, economic disruption, militarism, and environmental crisis in his works. He had a successful academic career and remained an influential figure until his death. He was married to Rose Riekher.  

 9 Rudi Dutschke

Rudi Dutschke
5
Famous As: Former Sociologist, political activist known for Spokesperson of the German student movement
Birthdate: March 7, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Schönefeld, Nuthe-Urstromtal, Germany
Died: December 24, 1979

Rudi Dutschke was a German sociologist and political activist. He was a leading figure within the West German Socialist Students Union (SDS). He was also involved with the Federal Republic's broader “extra-parliamentary opposition” (APO). He supported a world-wide socialist revolution. He was brutally attacked by an assassin in 1968 and struggled with his injuries for years before dying in 1979. 

 10 Niklas Luhmann

Niklas Luhmann
3
Famous As: Sociologist, philosopher of social science, and a prominent thinker in systems theory, who is considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century
Birthdate: December 8, 1927
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lüneburg, Germany
Died: November 6, 1998

Niklas Luhmann was a German sociologist and philosopher of social science. He was also a prominent thinker in systems theory. Considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century, he was best known for his debate with the critical theorist Jürgen Habermas over the potential of social systems theory. He wrote or co-wrote hundreds of books. 

 11 Wilhelm Dilthey

Wilhelm Dilthey
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: November 19, 1833
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Biebrich, Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: October 1, 1911

Wilhelm Dilthey was a German psychologist, sociologist, historian, and hermeneutic philosopher. An ardent admirer of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Dilthey helped revive the former's works on hermeneutics. Wilhelm Dilthey is also credited with teaching future philosophers like Hans Lipps, Eduard Spranger, and Theodor Litt.

 12 Ulrich Beck

Ulrich Beck
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Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: May 15, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Slupsk, Poland
Died: January 1, 2015

Ulrich Beck was a German sociologist whose work focused on questions of uncertainty, ignorance, and uncontrollability in the modern age. One of the most cited sociologists during his lifetime, Beck is credited with coining the terms second modernity and risk society. Over the course of his career, Ulrich Beck was honored with many prestigious awards like the Schader Prize.

 13 Ralf Dahrendorf

Ralf Dahrendorf
3
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: May 1, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
Died: June 17, 2009

Ralf Dahrendorf was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, and political scientist. As a class conflict theorist, he was a leading expert on analyzing class divisions in modern society. He was the author of multiple articles and books, including Class Conflict in Industrial Society (1959). He served as a professor of sociology in several universities in Germany and the UK.  

 14 Alexander Israel Helphand

Alexander Israel Helphand
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Famous As: Theoretician
Birthdate: September 8, 1867
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berazino, Belarus
Died: December 12, 1924

Initially inspired by Marxist ideals, Alexander Israel Helphand later got involved in revolutionary activities and was arrested. He escaped to Germany, where he later negotiated Lenin’s re-entry into Russia in a sealed train through Germany from Switzerland, where Lenin was exiled. Nevertheless, Helphand wasn’t allowed by Lenin to re-enter Russia.

 15 Alfred Weber

Alfred Weber
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Famous As: Economist, Educationist, Sociologist, University teacher
Birthdate: July 30, 1868
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Erfurt
Died: May 2, 1958

Alfred Weber was a German geographer, sociologist, economist, and theoretician of culture. Weber's work and contribution played a key role in the progression of modern economic geography. The younger brother of Max Weber, Alfred Weber contributed theories for analyzing social processes, social change as a confluence of civilization, and culture.

 16 Norbert Elias

Norbert Elias
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Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: June 22, 1897
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: August 1, 1990

Norbert Elias was a German-British sociologist. He is best known for his theory of civilizing/decivilizing processes. He studied philosophy, psychology, and medicine at the University of Breslau and was deeply involved in the German Zionist movement. He later moved to the United Kingdom where he pursued an academic career. He wrote prolifically following his retirement. 

 17 Andre Gunder Frank

Andre Gunder Frank
2
Famous As: Sociologist, economic historian known for contributions to world-systems theory
Birthdate: February 24, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: April 23, 2005

Andre Gunder Frank was a German-American economic historian and sociologist who advocated dependency theory and world-systems theory. In the 1950s and 1960s, Frank taught subjects, such as economics and anthropology at several American universities. He then went on to serve as a professor at the University of Chile. From 1981 to 1994, he taught at the University of Amsterdam.

 18 Max Scheler

Max Scheler
3
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 22, 1874
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: May 19, 1928

Max Scheler was a German philosopher best known for his work in ethics, phenomenology, and philosophical anthropology. He developed the philosophical method of Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology. He had a deep influence on the theology of Pope John Paul II. For many years, Scheler taught philosophy and sociology at the University of Cologne.  

 19 Werner Sombart

Werner Sombart
2
Famous As: Former Economist, Sociologist known for Coining the term
Birthdate: January 19, 1863
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ermsleben, Falkenstein, Germany
Died: May 18, 1941

Werner Sombart was a German sociologist and economist. He was one of the 20th century's most important Continental European social scientists who served as the leader of the Youngest Historical School. Werner Sombart is credited with coining the phrase late capitalism. He is also remembered for his magnum opus, Der moderne Kapitalismus.

 20 Siegfried Kracauer

Siegfried Kracauer
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 8, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: November 26, 1966

 21 Esther Vilar

Esther Vilar
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 16, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Born to German-Jewish immigrants in Argentina, Esther Vilar studied medicine before she moved to Germany to study psychology and sociology. After taking up scores of odd jobs, she soared to international fame with her bestselling book The Manipulated Man, which argues that women aren’t oppressed but control men in relationships.

 22 Theodor Geiger

Theodor Geiger
1
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: November 9, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: June 16, 1952

 23 Robert Michels

Robert Michels
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Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: January 9, 1876
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: May 3, 1936

 24 Louis Wirth

Louis Wirth
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Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: August 28, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gemünden, Germany
Died: May 3, 1952

 25 Ernst Troeltsch

Ernst Troeltsch
1
Famous As: Politician, Theologian, University teacher, Sociologist
Birthdate: February 17, 1865
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Augsburg-Haunstetten
Died: February 1, 1923

Ernst Troeltsch was one of the first German theologians to insist that the Christian church should reconsider its version of absolute truth. The Social Teaching of the Christian Churches remains his best-known work. The son of a physician, he was skeptical of religious absolutism from the very beginning.

 26 Franz Oppenheimer

Franz Oppenheimer
1
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: March 30, 1864
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 30, 1943

 27 Arnold Gehlen

Arnold Gehlen
1
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 29, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: January 30, 1976

 28 Thomas Luckmann

Thomas Luckmann
0
Famous As: Sociologist who co-author The Social Construction of Reality
Birthdate: October 14, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jesenice, Slovenia
Died: May 10, 2016

 29 Marianne Weber

Marianne Weber
1
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: August 2, 1870
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Oerlinghausen, Germany
Died: March 12, 1954

 30 Hans-Ulrich Wehler

Hans-Ulrich Wehler
1
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: September 11, 1931
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Freudenberg, Germany
Died: July 5, 2014

 31 Friedrich Albert Lange

Friedrich Albert Lange
1
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 28, 1828
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Solingen, Germany
Died: November 23, 1875

 32 Helmuth Plessner

Helmuth Plessner
1
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 4, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany
Died: June 12, 1985

 33 Carl Grünberg

Carl Grünberg
1
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 10, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Focșani, Romania
Died: February 2, 1940

Carl Grünberg was a German Marxist philosopher of law and history. He studied law in Strasbourg and practiced as an advocate. He then proceeded to study political economy in Vienna and eventually became an academic reader. He was one of the founders of Austromarxism. He became the director of the Institute for Social Research in 1924. 

 34 Albert Schäffle

Albert Schäffle
0
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: February 24, 1831
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nürtingen, Germany
Died: December 25, 1903

 35 Paul Barth

Paul Barth
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 1, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Olesnica, Poland
Died: September 30, 1922